July 26, 2016

Mellon Foundation awards $750,000 to 'Grand Challenges' research and publishing at Purdue

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded $750,000 to Purdue University to support a unique approach to research, scholarly publishing and communications on global grand challenges.

The approach at Purdue is unique in two ways. First, it catalyzes the involvement of humanists and social scientists in grand challenges research, innovation and policy formation. Next, it embeds publishing professionals, libraries faculty and policy experts in the scholarly communications process.

Mellon's support of the program enables broadly interdisciplinary teams to tackle grand challenges in new ways, with expert assistance in communicating results directly to the public and key stakeholders (policymakers, not-for-profit organizations, and others), so that new research gets more swiftly and effectively out of the academy into the hands of people who need it.

The approach is designed to drive innovation in grand challenges research while facilitating change in scholarly publishing in order to achieve greater public value.

The Scholarly Publishing Division of the Purdue University Libraries, the Purdue Policy Research Institute in Discovery Park, the College of Liberal Arts and the Purdue Systems Collaboratory are all partners on the grant. Peter Froehlich, director of the Libraries' Scholarly Publishing Division, and Laurel Weldon, director of the Purdue Policy Research Institute, will serve as principal investigators. This award follows on an earlier award of $539,000 from the Mellon Foundation in 2014.

"We're excited to be receiving this new award from Mellon," Froehlich said. "It's vital for publishers and policy centers to have support like this to work with researchers to explore ways to short-circuit traditional approaches to scholarly communications. The new award is a strong endorsement of our collaborative approach to research and scholarly publishing at Purdue." 

Weldon agreed.

"Thanks to the previous support we received from Mellon and to our work with our partners on the grant across campus, PPRI has been able to develop a model for high-impact, interdisciplinary research. We look forward to sparking greater innovation in interdisciplinary research and scholarly communications through this project," said Weldon, who is a distinguished professor of political science.

The majority of the grant funds will support competitively selected research projects.

Applicant teams can recruit members from any institution, but lead principal investigators must be faculty in the Purdue College of Liberal Arts.  At least one research faculty from a STEM field as well as one member of the Libraries' faculty must be included on each team. Projects will be funded from January 1, 2017 through July 31, 2019.  The title of the project is "Breaking Through: Multidisciplinary Solutions to Global Grand Challenges."

Details about applying, informational events and deadlines will be released soon.  Researchers can direct questions to Froehlich and Weldon at humstem@purdue.edu

Writer: Megan Huckaby, 765-496-1325, mhuckaby@purdue.edu 

Sources: Peter Froehlich, 765-494-8251, pfroehli@purdue.edu

Laurel Weldon, 765-494-4185, weldons@purdue.edu

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